The gaming industry has taken a huge toll since news of the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. With non-essential businesses left with no choice but to halt operations, numerous employees were simultaneously forced out of work leaving hundreds of thousands of people in suffering.
The trying time for the million dollar industry is now reportedly costing a huge chunk of casino revenue. As a definite solution is yet to be released, the future for when operations will return back to normal remains uncertain. While Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman made headlines last week as she pushed to reopen casinos, no decision has been made regarding the issue as of the moment. Meanwhile, in a different side of the world, Macau has recently experienced its worst gross gaming revenue decline in history.
Nevada Casinos Might Stay Closed for the Entire Month of May
Just the other day, Governor Steve Sisolak relayed in a press release Nevada’s plans towards a “new normal” beginning mid-May. Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery is set to uncover in a series of phases to safely restart the state’s economy. This state managed, locally-executed roadmap will receive state support and oversight “but responsible county governments, with knowledge of their unique communities and their existing local licensing and regulatory structure, are in the best position to execute the gradual reopening of the businesses and public life of their local residents,” the Governor said at the briefing.
The first phase of the plan is targeted to launch on May 15 practicing extremely aggressive social distancing measures with nonessential businesses, with some exceptions, are allowed to voluntarily reopen under restrictions. While no vaccine is readily available at present, Governor Sisolak said he had “the unfortunate responsibility to remind all of us that the threat remains real” as well as how Nevada’s confirmed cases are limited due to the implementation of these strong distancing guidelines.
Public gatherings of more than 10 people along with bars, nightclubs, malls, concert venues and casinos will remain to be prohibited for the initial stage. Given that the state sees continued declines in new cases and hospitalizations and reaches benchmarks for expanded testing and contact tracing, Phase 2 or the so-called Silver State Stabilization phase will be carried out slowly relaxing current restrictions.
Gaming Still on Pause in Las Vegas
As gaming holds a significant market in the state of Nevada, Sisolak clearly advised that “Gaming will not be opening at the start of Phase 1”. The governor priorly told ABC News that “the casino and the gaming enterprises will probably come in the third or the fourth phase of what we’re doing here because we’re just not ready yet to handle that type of a volume.”
In a list of policies released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board applicable to casinos and the like, health and safety procedures are specifically outlined in efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
These include a four player limit to a poker table, three players per blackjack table, six players per craps 4 table and four players per roulette table. Regular cleaning and disinfection of equipment, occupancy limits, employee training and responsibilities are also relayed in the released document to initially prepare establishments on what to expect. Although a lot are eager to return to normalcy, these steady regulations are imposed to keep public health in check and to provide an overall safe path on moving forward.
Macau’s Casino Revenues Almost Wiped Out by Pandemic Impact
Similar to Las Vegas where a big chunk of revenue comes from gaming, Macau experienced revenue down 96.8 percent last month as compared to the previous year’s reporting a record low $94.4 million. The worst gross gaming revenue decline in history clearly brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic is also partly due to travel restrictions and border closures prohibiting visitation from neighboring areas.
Raking in about $3 billion during the same period last year, figures released Friday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) is nowhere near the entertainment hub’s annual revenue. The closing down of all casinos back in February for a 15-day period and the 14-day quarantine policy imposed in Guangdong, China from which Macau welcomes a bulk of its visitors proved to be the most damaging for the territory’s situation. Being the ninth-highest recipient of tourism revenue and having a gambling industry seven times larger than that of Las Vegas, Macau’s government draws as much as 80 percent of its revenue from the gaming sector causing it to take a hard hit as well.
Many analysts however, are optimistic that the struggling industry may rebound in the coming weeks suggested travel restrictions with bordering provinces are eased. To date, Macau has not reported a single new case of the Coronavirus in the recent three weeks. A tally of zero deaths and a total of 37 recovered patients are also proving that the region’s implementation of proactive measures in curbing the spread of the virus are working.